Arsène Wenger has defended his decision to rotate his side for Arsenal’s first Champions League game of the season.
The Gunners lost to Dinamo Zagreb after fielding a much-changed 11 from the previous weekend’s 3-0 win against Stoke City. The 2-1 defeat in Croatia has left the Gunners under pressure to deliver in Tuesday’s game against Olympiacos, but the Arsenal manager has defended his selection policy.
A week after the Champions League disappointment, Arsenal won 2-1 in a League Cup third round north London derby and Wenger has insisted that performance is a good indicator of his squad’s true strength.
“I don’t believe it is down to selection at all, I believe that the 20 players I have available can play in every single game,” Wenger told the media. “I close my eyes, just take a position and I am confident we have a very strong team.
On the day [at Zagreb], basically the same team played at Tottenham and won in the League Cup in a game that was much more physical, so I believe it was just on the night that we didn’t play well.”
The starting 11 in the League Cup success had Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey, Mathieu Flamini, Calum Chambers and Joel Campbell but the other six players all started in Zagreb along with Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez.
It’s hard to argue that the side wasn’t good enough to beat Dinamo Zagreb – clearly there was a lot of talent – but the team just didn’t look well balanced.
Hopefully Tuesday’s game against Olympiacos, no matter who Wenger picks, gets us back on track in Europe.